If you are moving house soon you might be worried about the stress your cat may feel about the change. Cats are territorial animals so moving into a new environment can be difficult for them. Here are some ways to make the move easier and how to support them with the process.
Before moving house - prepare your cat in the weeks before the move.
Keep to your routine
Make sure you have a regular routine, particularly with feeding times, that you can continue to follow when you move to avoid any confusion or stress for your cat.
Cats release a facial pheromone which helps them identify their home and environment (you might see them doing this when they rub their faces on furniture). Plug-in diffusers containing a synthetic version of this pheromone can be used from a week before you move, and taken with you to the new house, to help them feel calmer and safer in their new environment.
If you get out your cat carrier just before your journey, your cat will most likely be scared and feel constrained. Try having the carrier out in the open for a couple of weeks before you plan to travel. You could also try to give the carrier a more positive feel by putting treats or toys in it to encourage your cats to go inside it. Also make sure it is fully secure with no broken fasteners in case of any escape attempts.
Provide a cat-safe zone
It might be useful to move your cat’s things (food, water, bed, litter tray and toys) into one quiet room in the house whilst you’re packing. Make sure to do this slowly, preferably a week before you move.
Register with a local vet & change Microchip details.
If you are moving out of the area, make sure to register with a local vet in your new town before you move, and update their microchip details with your new address. In the unlikely event that your cat manages to escape en route, they can be easily identified and returned to you.
On moving day
Moving day is likely to cause the most stress for your cats, here are some ideas that might help comfort them.
Keep their cat-safe zone available
On the day of moving keep your cats set up in your original home (their cat-safe zone). This way, whilst you are moving any belongings and making trips, you know your cat will be safe alone. You should also pack any of your cat’s belongings last so that they have less time without them.
Keep to your routine
Keep your routine as normal as possible on your moving day. Give your cat their food at the same time and try to give them the same amount of attention as you usually would. They’ll feel much better if you can stick to this routine and this will ultimately keep their stress levels low.
Consider using a Cat-Sitter or a cattery.
A professional Cat-Sitter such as My Three Cats can sit with your cat during the most hectic parts of the day to keep them calm by talking and playing with them. They can also give them some calming catnip herbs and stroke them to sooth them while you deal with removal vans and phone calls. Alternatively, some people prefer to put their cat into a cattery for the day, but do bear in mind that this will be one more new environment for them to deal with on an already stressful day.
Make sure to have a safe, enclosed carrier. Secure the carrier by wedging it into a car seat or use a seat belt to strap it down. Also, make sure to speak to your cat during the journey, it will be comforting for them to just hear your voice.
Unpack their things first
Once you are in your new home, unpack your cat’s belongings first whilst they are still in their carrier. Getting these out before you release your cat will reassure them as they will be able to smell their homely items before seeing their new living environment.
Similarly, scent-swapping involves bringing blankets/cushions that your cat is familiar with from your old home to help them settle in. You could also rub a soft cloth on your cat’s face and then rub it onto furniture at their height to spread their scent around the new house.
Once you’ve settled in
You might think once you’ve moved house, your cat will settle on their own. But there are some things to be aware of once you have moved in.
Prepare for accidents
The stress from moving can cause toileting accidents so be patient with them. Keep several clean litter trays somewhere easily accessible for them and encourage them to use them by taking them to them often.
Expand their space
Moving into a big, new house can be overwhelming for a cat, so don’t expose them to the whole space at once. Give them a safe room to start off with and slowly introduce them to different rooms.
If you have an outdoor cat, you need to take extra precautions when moving house. Your cat will miss having access to the outdoors but it’s important to keep them inside for at least the first 3-6 weeks. This will allow them to get used to the new home scent and help them recognise it when they do go outside. Before you let them out, it is advised to sprinkle some of their used cat litter around the perimeter of the house. This will expand their scent and pre-warn other local cats of their new neighbour!
When they’re ready, start by letting them out just before they’re due food. They are likely to run back to the sound of their food packets rattling this way. Leave a door or window open so they have an easy way to get back in and go out with them! They’re much more likely to explore knowing you’re close by.
Finally, cats can memorise a surprisingly large territory and some will try and make their way back ‘home’ if you are still living near to your old house. Give the new owners of your old home your details just in case your cat turns up again.
This blog has been created by Eloise Wright and Wendy Thomson from My Three Cats. We do not provide medical advice. If your cat experiences any issues regarding stress and anxiety, please get in touch with your vet immediately.
My Three Cats is a local cat-sitting service based in Warrington in the North West, owned by Wendy Thomson. For more information about our popular service contact us via our website My Three Cats or email firstname.lastname@example.org